In my Amazon account I have more than 250 books that I want to read one day, they are from all different genres and cover a large variety of topics, and I have decided to share my “books to read” list with you in the upcoming months.

I will divide all the lists in to mini sub categories. Starting off with Ancient History.

In this list I will be sharing 10 books that are interesting to me and if you are a history buff like myself you may be interested in them as well. The main reason for making all of the lists is to give you ideas for books that you may like in a particular category, or to discover books you’ve never heard about.

Let’s begin!

  1. Fearful Majesty: The Life and Reign of Ivan the Terrible

Info (Source; Amazon.com)

Ivan the Terrible – the name evokes the legend of a cruel and dangerously insane tyrant. Fearful Majesty explores that legend and exposes the man, his nature, and his time.

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.

Ivan IV oversaw huge conquests of neighbouring lands, the creation of a national church, and Russia’s emergence as a world power.

Arrogant, handsome, a gifted orator and theologian, Ivan was well-educated but cruel, profoundly egotistical yet cowardly, scarred by childhood terrors. He was also the Russian ruler whose policies first cast Russia in the role of “Evil Empire” to the West.

Throughout his reign, Ivan’s unbalanced genius erupted in a tyranny so violent that it threatened to destroy his bloodline, his court, his church, his country.

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2. Mongol Art of War

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“They razed cities to the ground, burnt woods, pulled down castles, tore up the vine trees, destroyed gardens, and massacred the citizens and husbandmen; if by chance they did spare any who begged their lives, they compelled them, as slaves of the lowest condition, to fight in front of them against their own kindred.”Matthew Paris recounting the devastation of Poland and Hungary in 1240

During the thirteenth century, Mongol armies under Chinggis Khan and his successors established the largest contiguous land empire in history, stretching across Asia and into eastern Europe. Contemporary descriptions of their conquests have led to a popular misconception that the Mongols were an undisciplined horde of terrifying horsemen who swept over opponents by sheer force of numbers. The Mongol army actually used highly trained regiments led by brilliant tacticians, such as Subutai, that carried out planned and practiced maneuvers. It was the strength, quality, and versatility of the Mongol military organization, not unchecked ferocity, that made them the pre-eminent warriors of their time.

In The Mongol Art of War, historian Timothy May overturns myths and misunderstandings that distort our understanding of Mongol warfare, and demonstrates that the armies of Chinggis Khan had more in common with modern ones than with the armies of ancient Rome and those of the medieval kingdoms they confronted. Describing the make-up of the Mongol army from its inception to the demise of the Mongol Empire, the author examines the recruitment, weaponry, and training of the Mongol warrior. He also analyzes the organization, tactics, and strategies the Mongols used, how they adapted to fighting in different conditions and terrain—such as using harsh winter weather to their advantage—and overcame a variety of opponents by steadily changing and adopting new tactics and modes of combat.

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3. Alexander the Great

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In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the remarkable life of the great conqueror. The celebrated Macedonian king has been one of the most enduring figures in history. He was a general of such skill and renown that for two thousand years other great leaders studied his strategy and tactics, from Hannibal to Napoleon, with countless more in between. He flashed across the sky of history like a comet, glowing brightly and burning out quickly: crowned at age nineteen, dead by thirty-two. He established the greatest empire of the ancient world; Greek coins and statues are found as far east as Afghanistan. Our interest in him has never faded.

Alexander was born into the royal family of Macedonia, the kingdom that would soon rule over Greece. Tutored as a boy by Aristotle, Alexander had an inquisitive mind that would serve him well when he faced formidable obstacles during his military campaigns. Shortly after taking command of the army, he launched an invasion of the Persian empire, and continued his conquests as far south as the deserts of Egypt and as far east as the mountains of present-day Pakistan and the plains of India. Alexander spent nearly all his adult life away from his homeland, and he and his men helped spread the Greek language throughout western Asia, where it would become the lingua franca of the ancient world. Within a short time after Alexander’s death in Baghdad, his empire began to fracture. Best known among his successors are the Ptolemies of Egypt, whose empire lasted until Cleopatra.

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4. Caesar

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Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of the great Roman emperor’s life, Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters during which he was high priest of an exotic cult, captive of pirates, seducer not only of Cleopatra but also of the wives of his two main political rivals, and rebel condemned by his own country. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar’s character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later.

In the introduction to his biography of the great Roman emperor, Adrian Goldsworthy writes, “Caesar was at times many things, including a fugitive, prisoner, rising politician, army leader, legal advocate, rebel, dictator . . . as well as husband, father, lover and adulterer.” In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy examines Caesar as military leader, all of these roles and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.

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5. Attila The Hun: A Barbarian King and the Fall of Rome

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The name of Attila the Hun is a byword for barbarism, savagery and violence. But what do we really know about the man who brought down the Roman Empire, and whose own weaknesses ensured the collapse of his empire after his death? This riveting biography reveals the man behind the myth.

 

 

 

 

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6. The Classical World: An Epic History of Greece and Rome

Info (Source; Amazon.com)

The classical civilizations of Greece and Rome once dominated the world, and they continue to fascinate and inspire us. Classical art and architecture, drama and epic, philosophy and politics-these are the foundations of Western civilization. In The Classical World, eminent classicist Robin Lane Fox brilliantly chronicles this vast sweep of history from Homer to the reign of Hadrian. From the Peloponnesian War through the creation of Athenian democracy, from the turbulent empire of Alexander the Great to the creation of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Christianity, Fox serves as our witty and trenchant guide. He introduces us to extraordinary heroes and horrific villains, great thinkers and blood-thirsty tyrants. Throughout this vivid tour of two of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known, we remain in the hands of a great master.

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7. Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire

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Ancient Rome is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Focusing on six turning points in Roman history, Simon Baker’s absorbing narrative charts the rise and fall of a political machine unmatched in its brutality, genius, and lust for power. From the conquest of the Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC to the destruction of the empire at the hands of barbarian invaders 700 years later, we discover the pivotal episodes in Roman history. At the heart of this account are some of the most powerful rulers in history—men like Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these legendary figures, Baker looks beyond the dusty caricatures to explore their real motivations, ambitions, intrigues, and rivalries. The superb narrative, full of energy and imagination, is a brilliant distillation of the latest scholarship and a wonderfully evocative account of ancient Rome.

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8. A History of Sumer and Akkad

Info (Source; Amazon.com)

Leonard W. King was one of the West’s most influential archaeologists and Middle East historians. He wrote at length about ancient civilizations like the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, and this is one of his critically acclaimed histories.

 

 

 

 

 

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09. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

Info (Source; Amazon.com)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Magisterial . . . [A] rich portrait of ancient Egypt’s complex evolution over the course of three millenniums.”—Los Angeles Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly

In this landmark volume, one of the world’s most renowned Egyptologists tells the epic story of this great civilization, from its birth as the first nation-state to its absorption into the Roman Empire. Drawing upon forty years of archaeological research, award-winning scholar Toby Wilkinson takes us inside a tribal society with a pre-monetary economy and decadent, divine kings who ruled with all-too-recognizable human emotions. Here are the legendary leaders: Akhenaten, the “heretic king,” who with his wife Nefertiti brought about a revolution with a bold new religion; Tutankhamun, whose dazzling tomb would remain hidden for three millennia; and eleven pharaohs called Ramesses, the last of whom presided over the militarism, lawlessness, and corruption that caused a political and societal decline. Filled with new information and unique interpretations, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt is a riveting and revelatory work of wild drama, bold spectacle, unforgettable characters, and sweeping history.

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10. The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings

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Dramatic, compelling and comprehensive – the great cycle of Norse myths are retold for the modern reader in The Penguin Book of Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland. ‘Burning ice, biting flame; that is how life begins’ The extraordinary Scandinavian myth cycle is one of the most enduring, exciting, dramatic and compelling of the world’s great stories. A series of intertwined tales which together form a strange and fantastical world teeming with gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, battles and couplings, the Norse myths are as exciting to read as they are of vast cultural and historical importance. Taking us from the creation of the world through the building of Asgard’s Wall to the final end in Ragnorak, and featuring the exploits and adventures of such legendary figures as Odin, Thor and Loki, The Penguin Book of the Norse Myths brings alive the passion, cruelty and heroism of these unforgettable stories. ‘Stately or bucolic, heroic or comic, romantic or gross, horrific or gentle, deeply ironic or deeply moving, the myths here retold yield up their mood and substance’The Times Literary Supplement ‘A collection of dramatic, moving, intricately structured stories … a scholarly survey and compendium of Norse mythology … a sustained poem distinguished by the icy precision of its language’ The Times Educational Supplement Kevin Crossley-Holland is an eminent poet, translator and prize-winning children’s author. His translations of Old English poetry are brought together in The Anglo-Saxon World, and he has also translated The Exeter Book Riddles for Penguin Classics. Among his many publications are eight volumes of poetry, various anthologies, including The Oxford Book of Travel Verse and Folk Tales of the British Isles, as well as two operas, a play and a memoir. He was previously Gregory Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds, editorial director of Victor Gollancz, Lecturer in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture for the Tufts University London program, Fulbright Visiting Scholar at St Olaf College and Endowed Chair in the Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of St Thomas. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Norfolk.

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